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Are compact cities environmentally friendly?

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Author Info

  • Carl Gaigné

    (INRA, French National Institute for Agricultural Research, France)

  • Stéphane Riou

    (UMR CNRS 5824 GATE Lyon-Saint-Etienne, Université de Saint-Etienne, France)

  • Jacques-François Thisse

    (CORE, Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), Université du Luxembourg (Luxembourg), CEPR (UK), and RIEB, Kobe University (Japan))

Abstract

There is a large consensus among international institutions and national governments to favor urban-containment policies - the compact city - as a way to improve the ecological performance of the urban system. This approach overlooks a fundamental fact: what matters for the ecological outcome of cities is the mix between the level of population density and the global pattern of activities. As expected, when both the intercity and intraurban distributions of activities are given, a higher population density makes cities more environmentally friendly. However, once we account for the fact that cities may be either monocentric or polycentric as well as for the possible relocation of activities between cities, the relationship between population density and the ecological performance of cities appears to be much more involved. Indeed, because changes in population density affect land rents and wages, firms and workers are incited to relocate, thus leading to new commuting and shipping patterns. We show that policies favoring the decentralization of jobs may be more environmentally desirable.

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File URL: http://www.rieb.kobe-u.ac.jp/academic/ra/dp/English/DP2011-15.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University in its series Discussion Paper Series with number DP2011-15.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kob:dpaper:dp2011-15

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Keywords: Greenhouse gas; Commuting costs; Transport costs; Cities; urban-containment policy;

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References

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  1. Gaigné, Carl & Riou, Stéphane & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2011. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally Friendly?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8297, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Sprawl and Urban Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2004, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  5. Jean Cavailhes & Carl Gaigne & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-Francois Thisse, 2006. "Trade and the structure of cities," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-454, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  6. THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Toward a unified theory of economic geography and urban economics," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2194, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-FranÁois Thisse, 2002. "Agglomeration and Trade Revisited," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(2), pages 409-436, May.
  8. Muniz, Ivan & Galindo, Anna, 2005. "Urban form and the ecological footprint of commuting. The case of Barcelona," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 499-514, December.
  9. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "How wide is the border?," International Finance Discussion Papers 498, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2008. "The Greenness of Cities: Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Urban Development," NBER Working Papers 14238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gaigné, Carl & Wooton, Ian, 2011. "The gains from preferential tax regimes reconsidered," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 59-66, January.
  12. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1999. "Deviations from Purchasing Power Parity:Causes and Welfare Costs," Working Papers 0038, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  13. Kahn, Matthew E. & Schwartz, Joel, 2008. "Urban air pollution progress despite sprawl: The "greening" of the vehicle fleet," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 775-787, May.
  14. Haufler, Andreas & Wooton, Ian, 2010. "Competition for firms in an oligopolistic industry: The impact of economic integration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-248, March.
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  16. Bento, Antonio M. & Franco, Sofia F. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2006. "The efficiency and distributional impacts of alternative anti-sprawl policies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 121-141, January.
  17. Tabuchi, Takatoshi, 1998. "Urban Agglomeration and Dispersion: A Synthesis of Alonso and Krugman," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 333-351, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  2. GAIGNE, Carl & RIOU, Stéphane & THISSE, Jacques François, . "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2404, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Gaigne, Carl & Riou, Stephane & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable?," Working Papers 121692, University of Laval, Center for Research on the Economics of the Environment, Agri-food, Transports and Energy (CREATE).
  4. Rainald Borck, 2014. "Will Skyscrapers Save the Planet? Building Height Limits and Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4773, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. WUNSCH, Guillaume & MOUCHART, Michel & RUSSO, Federica, 2012. "Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations," CORE Discussion Papers 2012056, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  8. Kristof Dascher, 2013. "Climate Change and Urban Contours: Why Countries with Denser City Centers Fight Climate Change Harder," ERSA conference papers ersa13p744, European Regional Science Association.
  9. de Cara, Stephane & Fournier, Anne & Gaigne, Carl, 2011. "Feeding the Cities and Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Beyond the Food Miles Approach," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114350, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  10. Jaume Masip Tresserra, 2013. "Sub-centres and Urban Inequality: A study on Social Equity in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region," ERSA conference papers ersa13p64, European Regional Science Association.
  11. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.

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